Last night at the end of a little bit of our usual ribbing with a training partner I got thinking. We joke with each other about our weak areas and even our strong sport is because we do them to much and should focus on the weak ones, and so it goes. He said the other day he couldn’t ride with me because “us real triathletes train the swim and run in winter.” Now he was half if not mostly joking as he trains very consistently on the bike and is subsequently very fast on the bike.
yet he’s right in that many triathletes do stay away from the bike in winter.
The reason most do is that with daylight short, cold weather and the simple lack of knowledge of what to do with less time its hard to get it in. Or worse, the misconception that if your focus is a long event like a ½ or full Ironman you need to train “long” all the time. Now, don’t get me wrong there is less time to ride. Riding in winter can be chilly business and trainers suck. I almost never ride mine.
There are folks out there that ride a lot in winter and do little to no swimming! I talked about this a bit HERE. On how to maximize your swim time. Some good points there on both sides of that discussion.
The Real reason that triathletes don’t ride as much in the winter is a bigger issue. Many athletes (across the board) train what is easy or convent to train not what they should train. There is a balance here, we have to play with the deck we are dealt but playing that hand aggressively to win and playing it to simply not get eliminated are 2 very different things.
I won’t get into specifics on time management. If you haven’t read our off season series or been to the “training your weakness” seminar then get caught up! Less time means opportunity not more obstacles. And by the way, its winter your A race is months away why do you need to be supper specific now anyway?
If you want to get better, faster, more efficient then guess what… you can’t do whatever is convenient you have to MAKE THINGS HAPPEN! I know it’s cold and dark but your competition doesn’t care. Neither does the race course and the clock doesn’t slow down just for you on the last climb because you didn’t “get as many miles in as last year” how many times you heard that sob story!
“ OK Eric, fine Mr. tough guy. I leave for work in the dark. I come home and its dark what do I do”
Here are a few ways to make riding in winter very doable.
- Realize 99% of your competition is in the same situation. Don’t’ get discouraged because you can’t do what you normally do for a bike training session. If you can use your time 1% better than them, you win come July. My fuzzy math here. 1%, times 2 rides a week for 4 months is 32%. Percent of what I’m not sure but you see what I am getting at.
- Get some warm cycling clothes. There is no reason you can’t ride in winter cold. Lobster mitt gloves, good bottles, thermal jackets, etc. will have you warm without looking like a the kid from A Christmas story.
- Maximize the time you DO have. Ride for workload. TSS or Kj’s. Not miles. Don’t have a power meter, Fine, ride for time and never coast. EVER! If you stay aerobic you get “endurance” adaptations. Going easy doesn’t get you better “endurance”. workload does. Yeah its easier to get lots of workload with more time, so do your best. And read these 3 articles again.start at the bottom on the page.
- Plan ahead! I’m so sick of saying this but really look at your training/ training goals for that week. What is the weather like? What’s your work sch, like? What’s the gym sch. Like? Now put it all together. Nice days/when you have time (weekends) ride. Make those days ride days. Its never to cold to run and swimming is in a controlled environment.
- Always be prepared. Get out of work early, got extra time at lunch. It was supposed to snowing on Sunday but now it sunny and nice… be ready to improvise, over come and adapt!
- The trainer. It sucks but it works. Here are a few tips for that. And winter in general.
- Spin classes: here’s a whole article on spinning. Here’s the deal. it’s your workout, do what you want. It’s inside and better than the trainer, I think anyway. If your swimming it’s probably at a gym find a spin class that works. Get there a bit early and/or stay a few minutes late it will be easy to get past that key 70 min. mark. Brick run on the tread mill anyone. The possibilities and combinations are endless. And they all maximize your time.
The Bottom line:
If you do what’s convenient, don’t plan ahead and let mother nature dictate your training sch. You’re not gona get any better. You’ll be having the same “yeah man I don’t have the time that guy has to train” Conversation as you did last year. Weak! He doesn’t have more time than you he MADE more time. Being a good athlete isn’t about who’s “talented”, who has more time or a better bike. Its about who takes the time (a very small about of time) to plan ahead and MAKE things happen. To get what they need to get done, and to meet there goals.